a warning: photo-overload.
eating in taipei – and taiwan, in general – is an education in the merits of spacing your calories out throughout that day. come to think of it though, it’s not calories you’re so much bothered with so much as stomach space.
I went to taiwan knowing full well the country’s reputation for gastronomic provision, but the reality is far more overwhelming that that. restaurants and cafes and food stores/stalls line the streets, and it’s impossible to walk more than a couple steps without putting yet another place on the to-go list.
but the markets, those are beasts. the creativity of the food there is immense – meats and seafood and noodles and rice and everything possible manipulated into all from the familiar to the exotic.
it’s impossible to do a comprehensive round-up of all we ate, but I have some favorites. I’ve discovered the taiwanese have nearly the same fascination for oden as I do: bits of fish paste and tofu-type items boiling in soup; seasoned and barbecued king mushrooms; and ai-yu jelly, which is a clear slightly-elastic jelly that often comes in a rather lemony drink.
I’m not a big eater of fried food, or fatty food, or anything with too-strong flavors – which makes me a weaker proponent for markets than most other people. but they are an amazing receptacle of gastro innovation, and everything’s usually cheap enough to at least have a go once.
I’m listing the markets I visited down below (not many given the few days we had), but my favorite must be the one along raohe street . it had the most delicious collection of stalls, and far more impressive than the more famous shilin market – which I thought overhyped, mad expensive, and not worth the trouble (we went because we were told it’s worth seeing at least once – which is advice I pass on to you, but it’s rather akin to visiting a museum in a country just because it’s there).
make sure you visit a night market if you’re in the region – and go with an empty stomach!
- Raohe Street Night Market, Songshan | 饒河街觀光夜市 (the best one)
a large, sprawling busy market with hawkers at their stalls
- Ximending, Wanhua | 西門町
a shopping district full of boutiques and actual shops, with take-away shops more than hawker-style stalls
- Shilin Night Market, Shilin | 士林夜市 (the worst)
the least impressive, with long queues at stores and lower-quality (more touristy-type) food, and terribly high prices (especially fruit, which sells at ludicrously exorbitant prices)